Murder trial opens in prostitute’s slaying

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Larry Darnell Shyne never planned for Kimberly Michelle Sum to be shot and killed.

Shyne, Sum’s former pimp, allegedly enlisted his cousin and his cousin’s gang associate to rob Sum at her Ontario hotel room.

Shyne wanted Sum’s laptop, and he told his cousin, Donald Ray Walker, and the associate, Matthew James McClane, to keep any cash and valuables.

But when Walker and McClane visited Sum on Dec. 19, 2008 at the Hotel Indigo under the guise of a “date,” the call girl didn’t have a laptop or valuables in her room.

And Sum, 41, kept screaming during the robbery. As her screams became louder, McClane allegedly took out a pistol and shot Sum in the chest, killing her.

That was the narrative a prosecutor told jurors today in her opening statement in West Valley Superior Court, where Shyne and McClane’s murder trial opened for their alleged roles Sum’s slaying.

“She was a mother,” Youngberg said of Sum. “She was a friend to many.”

After Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Youngberg spoke to jurors, a defense attorney gave an opening statement — urging jurors to keep an open mind — and three witnesses testified. Testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.

Walker, 23, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2009 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that carries a 17-year prison sentence.

As part of his agreement, he must testify during Shyne and McClane’s trial.

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Shyne, 31, of Pomona, was a pimp, and at one time Sum was one of the call girls that worked for him, Youngberg told the jury of 10 women and two men.

According to Youngberg, Shyne was known for being violent with his prostitutes, and during a previous dispute with Sum he assaulted and threatened her.

Because of his past association with Sum, Shyne knew her room number at the Hotel Indigo, a newly opened hotel north of the 10 Freeway and west of Haven Avenue where Sum had lived for about six months, Youngberg said.

With her room number in hand, Shyne contacted Walker, who is a member of a Los Angeles gang, and asked him to enlist an associate to carry out the robbery.

“Kimberly Sum would be here today if Mr. Shyne did not set this up,” Youngberg told jurors.

During the investigation into Sum’s killing, police released footage from hotel security cameras that captured images of Walker and McClane. Tips from the public led detectives to both men, who were arrested March 12, 2009.

After his arrest, Walker at first denied any involvement in Sum’s death. But during an interview with detectives, he eventually revealed each defendant’s alleged role in Sum’s death.

He told police that Shyne’s plan called for Sum to be robbed, and assaulted only if she resisted. He said he was surprised and angry when McClane, 28, took out a pistol and shot Sum.

McClane’s attorney, Gary Ablard, called Walker’s comments to police into question during his opening statement, and said, “Cross-examination is a big part of the defense.”

“We are going to test that evidence, and hopefully the truth will come out of that,” Ablard said.
Ablard also noted that Youngberg’s comments were not evidence.

“I only ask that as we go through this trial you keep an open mind,” Ablard said.

Shyne’s defense attorney, David Call, did not give an opening statement today, but reserved his right to give a statement after the prosecution’s portion of the trial is over.

The prosecution’s first witness was a former employee at the hotel who discovered Sum’s body the day after the shooting when she checked her room after receiving two “mystery calls” at the front desk asking about Sum’s condition.

Shyne is a former football player who played wide receiver for Mt. San Antonio College, and was a member of the team that won the state championship in 1997.

Shyne went on to play for Purdue University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Man accused of torching ex-girlfriend’s car

CHINO — A 28-year-old man has been charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s car.

Carlos Allen Alexander is accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend after their breakup in October, with his actions culminating Jan. 13 in the alleged torching of the 27-year-old woman’s car.

Alexander has pleaded not guilty to arson, and he is next due Tuesday in Chino Superior Court for a preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors must present evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Alexander has two strike convictions, so he could face a prison sentence of 25 years to life if convicted of arson.

Alexander remains jailed in lieu of $625,000 bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

According to a police report contained in his court file, Alexander continuously called and sent text messages to his ex-girlfriend, and often came uninvited to her apartment in the 13000 block of Ramona Avenue in Chino.

“He is always telling her that he loves her and asks why she won’t take him back,” the police report says.

His ex-girlfriend and another witness told police Alexander was lurking outside the woman’s apartment complex the evening of Jan. 12, in the hours before her car was torched.

The woman told police that when she came home from work at about 6 p.m., her patio screen door and storage shed door were open, as if someone tried to break into her apartment.

She later opened her front door and saw Alexander nearby. She told police they made eye contact but did not speak, and she went inside and closed the door.

Over the next several hours, Alexander called his ex-girlfriend numerous times and asked her to let him into her apartment. She said she refused each time.

At 11:30 p.m., the woman said her doorbell rang, but she was in bed and did not answer the door because she feared it was Alexander.

About 45 minutes later, the woman’s car was torched.

A man who lives in the apartment complex told police he was walking in the parking lot and saw the woman’s car on fire.

He said he saw a man who matched Alexander’s description about 30 feet away from the car and walking away from it, according to the police report.

Chino police officers arrested Alexander at about 10 a.m. Jan. 13 at The Welcome Inn in Pomona, which is located at 4118 Mission Blvd.

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Claremont man arrested for mailing threatening letters containing poison

CLAREMONT — A 48-year-old man was arrested this morning by federal authorities for allegedly mailing letters containing poisonous substances to a courthouse and to several offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr. was arrested at his home in Claremont. He was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes.

Each count carries up to five years in prison, meaning Yarbrough could face a sentence of up to 65 years, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Yarbrough pleaded not guilty to criminal charges this afternoon in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. A trial was scheduled for March 22, said U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek.

Yarbrough was released from custody this afternoon after posting $25,000 bail, Mrozek said.

A woman who identified herself as Yarbrough’s sister said today that she’s “speechless” over her brother’s arrest.

“There’s nothing I can really tell you right now,” said Yarbrough’s sister, who declined to give her name.

Between November 2008 and May 2010, Yarbrough allegedly mailed letters containing either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that authorities determined was poisonous.

“The material was found to be poison, but not bacterial biothreat agents or other toxins like, say, ricin or anthrax,” Mrozek said.

The letters led to employee evacuations in each of the locations they were received.

The letters were mailed to the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park, and to Department of Children and Family Services offices in Pomona, Covina, El Monte, Monterey Park, Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles, Chatsworth and Lancaster, according to the news release.

“Using threatening letters and hoax powders to convey discontent is a serious crime and, as evidenced with the arrest of Mr. Yarbrough, has significant consequences,” said Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.

“The major law enforcement response generated every time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of taxpayers,” he said.

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Trial set for Tuesday in Filippi Winery lawsuit

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA – A trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the lawsuit between two Filippi brothers that will determine the fate of the Joseph Filippi Winery.

Attorneys for Gino and Joe Filippi confirmed the trail date today during a trial readiness hearing in West Valley Superior Court.

Gino, an Upland councilman who owns a 45 percent stake in the Rancho Cucamonga winery, was fired from his position at the winery and is seeking to dissolve the family business.

Joe, who owns a 55 percent stake in the business, has counter-sued Gino for alleged breach of fiduciary duty.

A court staff member said today that the trial will begin Tuesday if there is a courtroom with an open schedule that can accommodate the trial proceedings. If there is not space, the trial date will be pushed back, the staff member said.

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Trial date set in officers’ Ontario Mills rape case

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An April 18 trial date was scheduled today in the case of two law enforcement officers charged in the alleged kidnap and rape last year of an Ontario Mills waitress.

Anthony Nicholas Orban, a former Westminster police detective, is accused of kidnapping a waitress at gunpoint April 3 in the mall’s parking lot, then sexually assaulting her in a parked car for more than an hour at a Fontana shopping center.

His childhood friend, California Institution for Men corrections officer Jeff Thomas Jelinek, is accused of watching the kidnapping, picking up Orban after the assault, and erasing incriminating cell phone messages.

The men, who have pleaded not guilty and remain jailed in lieu of $2 million bail, are next due March 4 in West Valley Superior Court for a pretrial hearing.

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